Friday, 5 February 2010
First off I would like to apologise to all the readers who logged on to the site today expecting to read yet another light hearted and informative chocolate review ... I am afraid today you get more of half review, half rant! At heart of matters today this Thorntons Lovebirdsxx offering takes centre stage and it can billed as a product constituting of 'two milk chocolate lovebirds decorated with dark and white chocolate with a smooth chocolate heart truffle'.
Together the birds and single truffle piece weighed in at 170.0g and would set you back £5.99 if bought in your local Thorntons shop. Speaking about the presentation ... boy where do I start!? As if the transparent plastic box wasn't cheap looking enough Thorntons sure did a job of making the inner bird shapes look ridiculously tacky which is something I think completely out of kilter with their premium brand positioning. Upon unsealing the plastic case of pure tackiness I was met with some standard chocolaty smells which did little to detract my attention from the perfectly formed yet gaudy looking birds.
Sigh - now where do I begin with the chocolate!? Frankly the 30% milk chocolate delivered nothing more than your run-of-the-mill sugary milky taste and just had nothing about it that made it stand out as good quality milk chocolate. The white and dark chocolate that 'decorated' the birds did little more than just that ...'decorate'. The dark chocolate in particular had no cut through in regards to the taste whatsoever, whilst the white chocolate did nothing apart from bring a cheap sugar rush to already sweet milk chocolate base taste. In fact the only redeeming thing in regards to chocolate for this Lovebirdsxx package was the single chocolate truffle which actually brought some additional notes of butter and caramel to the party in and amongst it's soft truffle centre. It wasn't the highest quality truffle I have had recently but it was a damn sight better than the birds.
Overall I don't think I need summarise my thoughts on this product as think they are laid bare in the above paragraphs. What with current affairs with Britain losing one of it's most renowned chocolate brands it is with great regret that I have to keep banging on about how I think Thorntons are in continuous decline. This product summed up everything that I think is wrong with Thorntons at the moment - they are producing way too many substandard chocolate products and are trying to play in parts of the market that don't fit their brand. Personally I used to to think that Thorntons held very prestigious brand equity - they were a brand that commanded a price premium because they produced high quality, sophisticated chocolates. These Thorntons Lovebirdsxx were neither high quality chocolate or sophisticated and it is products like this that I think are destroying what is left of Thorntons premium brand position in the eyes of consumers. For the love of god Thorntons we don't have many British chocolate producers left ... get your house in order!!!
6.2 out of 10
Thursday, 4 February 2010
Fox's Rocky bars are a staple for many a lunch box here in the UK and they are one of the best selling chocolate biscuit bars of all time. Rocky bars are available in two different flavours - Original and Caramel and are distributed in most supermarkets and food retails outlets. I normally stay a away from the chocolate biscuit bar sector as they are a slightly different proposition to your normal chocolate bar, but for todays review I decided to give the Rocky Caramel bar a crack at the ChocolateMission rating system. The Rocky Caramel is a bar constituting of a biscuit base, topped with caramel and covered in milk chocolate.
I found these on special offer (74p) in my local OneStop shop for a multi pack of 9 bars. Although I didn't like the look of the packaging on display here I am quite aware that by the time this review gets published the new style Rocky packaging will have been rolled out. The pack shots I have taken above are the old style wrappers and I think you will agree it is lucky they have been changed because they very cheap and tacky. Personally I think the new designs are a bit cleaner and I like the direction they have gone accentuating the 'R' for the branding. The chocolate bars themselves I thought looked pretty good though I remember being a bit bigger when I was younger. The caramel looked appetising poking out between the biscuit and chocolate layers, though even when removed from its wrapper the bar failed to make an impression in regards to its aroma, registering little more than a faint biscuity smell.
As I have fleetingly mentioned above it wasn't an all too uncommon occurrence for one of these to appear in my lunch box as a nipper so I was already well aware of what I was really in for. To my surprise things had changed very little though I have to say that the cut back on the milk chocolate was very obvious compared to the bars I was having years ago. For such a cheap product per unit the milk chocolate was actually surprisingly ok and it was no worse than the quality of milk chocolate that you get on any Nestle bar. As I have mentioned above what was disappointing was the thickness of chocolate layer which I have to say was embarrassingly thin and thus lasted for only a matter of seconds in the mouth with its fast melt. The biscuit element to this bar was not exactly out of this world, yet like the chocolate it held up its part of the bargain with its wheaty, sugary taste providing a degree of sustenance. The part of this bar that I have always thought was disappointing, and still to this point do, is the caramel layer which tasted almost like a gooey sugar layer. With better quality products you get touches of butter, toffee and burnt sugar but the caramel on offer here was one dimensional and ultimately just rather poor. Like many products nowadays it is almost like someone has stuck the Rocky bar from a few years ago in the wash on a too high temperature, the bars are noticeably smaller and personally I thought it wasn't the most satisfying of snacks.
Overall I was never expecting miracles from this Rocky Caramel but I certainly thought it had potential for hitting the low 7s on the ChocolateMission rating scale. Ultimately that score proved a little out of reach for this product even though I was rather kind in the score I gave the packaging. The bar didn't quite hit the 7.0 rating because of two fairly obvious reasons - the portioning of the chocolate and the quality of the caramel. Simply put the chocolate needed to be kinder in its portioning and needed to implemented a bit thicker in order for it to have a greater say in the overall taste. Frankly the caramel in Rocky bars has always been a bit on the dodgy side so I wasn't really that surprised at the quality on offer here. On the whole I think the Rocky Caramel is far from being the best chocolate bar out there but I have to say that for the price (especially when halved!!) I don't think you can really argue with what it offers.
6.6 out of 10
Wednesday, 3 February 2010
If I was to say I was either disappointed or surprised when these Hotel Chocolat Melting Hearts popped through my door I would be telling a lie. Indeed when Hotel Chocolat asked me which of their Valentines Day products they should send along for me to sample this year these immediately caught the eye. The billing of a 'breathtaking collection of flavoured chocolate hearts' sounded pretty damn good to me so I made sure I requested a box to try for myself to of course give you all an idea as to whether they were good enough for your special someones ... any excuse eh ;)
Included in this Melting Hearts selection box there were nine different flavoured milk and dark chocolates - six of which were portioned twice and three that were only portioned once. In terms of presentation it won't surprise you to hear that I thought Hotel Chocolat did a pretty good job of things and I liked everything from the well designed outer box to the inner tray and padding which came complete with a nifty menu.
Below are my brief thoughts on each of the chocolates - thanks again to my family who assisted me in rating each on the scale of Very Poor to Superb.
Chocolate Mousse - This was probably the least exciting piece in the selection but it wasn't exactly disappointing in its flavours. Like all of the milk chocolates the outer coating was formed of Hotel Chocolat's 40% recipe so it immediately established a kind cream based cocoa taste in the mouth. The inner filling wasn't the most progressive in terms of flavours, however it was wonderfully smooth melting with its soft texture. Good.
Coffee Praline - This was one of the pieces that I ear marked from the menu and I made sure that I nabbed both before other wandering hands could lay claim to them. Just as I hoped the dark chocolate was simply delicious and the volume of cocoa flavours was spot on establishing a deep and rich taste. Speaking of the inner coffee filling it was just as brilliant and the roasted bean flavours cut through the chocolate wonderfully. Superb.
Milk Praline with Cocoa Crispies - Crispies!?? Really!? I couldn't believe it when I read this on the menu. Normally I associate rice cereal with manufactures looking to 'pad' out chocolate as they often take up considerable amounts of space and are a cheap ingredient. Whilst the outer chocolate was still very flavoursome the bitty and crunchy filling was neither as sensuous as the chocolate mousse truffle or as flavoursome as the majority of the others. Standard.
Sticky Toffee & Banana (Left) - The three chocolates above were only portioned once so it didn't take long my mother to lay claim to this banana flavoured piece. According to her the outer chocolate melted nicely in to the centre which was slightly drier and tacky in texture with a golden syrup like stickiness. In terms of flavours the toffee element came through strongest establishing a delicious caramel like taste although it did somewhat dominate the banana fruit influence which came as minor disappointment to her. Good.
Pistachio Praline (Back) - I don't think it will take you to long to identify this piece in the picture above with its bright green filling. As with all the rest of the milk chocolate pieces the quality of the chocolate was very high and the creamy flavours led nicely in to the nutty filling. In the past I have been disappointed by weak pistachio flavoured chocolates but this chocolate really had a powerful pistachio influence that delivered a tasty salty kick to the taste. Superb.
Caramel Praline (Front) - I absolutely adored this chocolate! It sounded like it was going to be Superb and it simply was! The creamy outer milk chocolate melted softly in to the caramel praline filling and brought the standard cream rooted flavour base. The centre itself was sinfully smooth on the tongue and the raw hazelnut notes blended nicely with the butterscotch flavours to deliver a long lasting delightful taste. Superb.
Macadamia & Coconut - When are manufacturers going to get the message that they just don't do enough with macadamia nuts!? The last time I tasted a macadamia flavoured Hotel Chocolat chocolate was in their Seriously Dark Selection where their Macadamia Bite got a Superb rating. Quite frankly this chocolate was equally as good - the macadamia came through in the filling with a superb buttery taste that had a delightful salt hint. The coconut element was AWOL but this didn't matter to me one little bit - I nabbed both of these ones!! :D Superb.
Orange Praline - I left these to my mother and sister so we will have to trust them with their rating! Although neither are dark chocolate lovers they both enjoyed the outer coating and felt it was just about right in terms of strength. Both commented that the filling was fantastically smooth and the orange fruit influence came through nicely providing a long lasting sweeter side to the taste. Very Good.
Gianduja - Having eaten my way through a 300.0g box of Hotel Chocolat Gianduja Cubes not long ago I knew exactly what to expect here. The milk chocolate was creamy and delicious whilst the centre was nothing short of divine with its hazelnut lead taste and butter like melt. I needn't elaborate anymore on this chocolate apart from writing the word. Superb.
Overall with every Hotel Chocolat product I review and give over 9.0 out of 10 my recommendations must be getting more and more diluted in what they mean to you all. Unfortunately I just can't do anything but recommend these products when the quality is so consistently high - yet again Hotel Chocolat put together another fine selection of chocolates that are worthy of being gifted to anyone this Valentines Day. If you look above at all the individual ratings for each of the chocolates you will see there were some real standout pieces, namely the Gianduja, Coffee Praline, Macadamia & Coconut, Caramel Praline & Pistachio Praline. I guess a criticism that I could levy at this selection would be that out of the prestigious few named above two of them were portioned only the one time, which of course came at great disappointment when it was established just how great they tasted. I better round this up now as this review is getting a little on the long side ... summing up in simple terms this is a selection box that I am sure would go down an absolute treat to anyone it was gifted to - I very highly recommend it.
9.1 out of 10
Spend £15 @ Hotel Chocolat and get 10% with the code JIMVAL10
Tuesday, 2 February 2010
Monday, 1 February 2010
6.2 out of 10
Sunday, 31 January 2010
Kcal 71 Fat 4.6g Fat(sats) 2.8g Carbs 6.7g (per chocolate)
Some of my more observant readers may have noticed at the back of end 2009 that I had a slight disagreement with UK manufacture Thorntons regarding some of the contents of my Christmas 2009 reviews. Having been assured that this was merely just a case of miscommunication I was more than willing to let bygones-be-bygones and was very grateful to receive a box full of samples containing some of their latest Valentines Day 2010 range. First up today we have these I♥You Truffles, which came described as 'milk, white and dark chocolates with a smooth chocolate truffle filling'.
These truffles came in a 60.0g box that contained five separate pieces that quelle surprise spelt out 'I♥YOU'. Looking at the packaging I was really surprised to see that these were presented in a pretty tacky looking transparent plastic box. I had no problems with the design work printed on it but to be honest the outer box struck me as tacky and cheap which are not two descriptive words that you would want to by synonymous with a present you would gift for Valentines Day. Inside the truffles themselves looked fair - I personally would have preferred to have seen all the chocolates heart shaped but it was a least nice to see a bit of differentiation from the outer chocolate layers and truffle filling when cross-sectioned.
Due to the packaging having several gaps for air to breathe in and out it was not surprising that the chocolates didn't emanate a particularly strong aroma when the box was opened. The pieces weren't scentless but the minor dairy sweet smells failed to ignite much anticipation which in hindsight was possibly a good thing as it would only have meant I would have been more disappointed. As you can see above all the chocolates that contained letters (i.e. 'IYOU') were formed of outer white and milk chocolate with a truffle fillings. In regards to chocolate quality I am afraid I have to say these were really nothing special and this was mainly driven by the lack of variable flavours offered up. The taste was very much led by the outer milk chocolate which failed to register anything greater than run of the mill sweet milky flavours that had a pretty minor level of cocoa input. The white chocolate that formed the top of each chocolate offered little aside from an added burst of sugar to the taste, whilst the inner truffle filling felt lighter in texture yet added nothing progressive in terms of flavours. Similarly the heart shaped piece offered nothing more flavour wise and instead just had a touch less sweetness with it's mass consumer friendly dark chocolate top.
Overall I simply can't recommend these Thorntons I♥YOU Truffles for a number reasons - all of which are not actually touched on above. One of the biggest turns off for me when it comes to these truffles is the price of £1.99 which I personally think is a contradictory as it is on one hand steep for the quantity of chocolate you get, but on the other not exactly an impressive amount of money to spend on a person who you supposedly 'Love'. Don't get me wrong I am well aware that in hard times like these not everyone is able to spend a lot of money on throw away days like Valentines Day but seriously come on ... you have to spend more than £1.99. Speaking of the actual chocolate it wasn't horrible but neither was it the quality I was expecting from Thorntons and the same could be said about the packaging which I thought was cheap looking for a brand that is supposed to be nearer the high end of the chocolate market. I have a few more items from Thorntons' Valentines 2010 range to review in the coming days ... lets hope they prove to be a little better than these were.
6.5 out of 10
Saturday, 30 January 2010
Friday, 29 January 2010
Thursday, 28 January 2010
Kcal ??? Fat ??? Fat(sats) ??? Carbs ???
I think I made it quite obvious last year how little I buy in to holidays like Valentines Day and Halloween but despite that I feel a duty to my readers to sort the wheat from the chaff in terms of the chocolate offerings on the UK market. Starting today over the coming week or so I will be looking at Hotel Chocolat's Valentines Day range. It has probably been impossible for you all to miss but all ChocolateMission readers can receive 10% off their Hotel Chocolat orders if they spend over £15 and input the code - JIMVAL10 ... I hope some of you make good use of the code on the Hotel Chocolat Website - See HERE.
Last week I received a big batch of samples from my pals at Hotel Chocolat and with the help of my family got stuck right into these Chilli & Nibs Sweethearts. In terms of proposition these looked like a simple variation of the Caramel Sweethearts I reviewed last year, however I thought the billing of 'solid chilli flavoured dark chocolate hearts with cocoa nibs' sounded a little more promising than the previous year's effort. In terms of packaging all the usual Hotel Chocolat swagger was encapsulated by the nicely designed outer box and inner tray and padding combo and I thought the red colouring was a good choice to communicate the chilli flavouring. The hearts themselves were not quite so impressive looking as the additional cocoa nib pieces scuffed the surface of the chocolates which spoilt the intricate design work somewhat.
Although we were a little disappointed by the aesthetics of the chocolates I am glad to report that it had no ramifications on the overall product. In regards to smell they emanated some fine roasted and burnt cocoa notes which was highly indicative of the taste experienced. As soon as I read that the chocolates were formed of Hotel Chocolat's 70% recipe I knew we were all in for a treat and these didn't fail to disappoint. Each heart piece was best eaten in two mouthfuls and I loved the dexterity of the textures created by the smooth melting chocolate base and the crunchy nib pieces. In terms of flavours the unsweetened cocoa taste was substantiated as soon as the chocolate hit the tongue. The volume of the cocoa grew with progression of the melt, however the taste never became overly bitter due to the presence of some milky undertones. Speaking of the additional chilli and nib elements one had a far greater say in the taste than the other and it was the chilli adding a lovely spicy kick to some, but not all of the heart pieces . Indeed this was something noted by not only me but my whole family - the chilli was a little inconsistent in that in some pieces it quite prominent, whilst in others undetectable.
Overall me and family were in agreement that these were very tasty but were not one of Hotel Chocolat's finest offerings at the same time. In fairness to Hotel Chocolate for the average manufacture these would go down as fantastic but in relation to the rest of their range there were just a few things that weren't quite right. Firstly as my old man mentioned the name .... 'Chilli & Nibs Sweethearts' probably wasn't the best choice!? I can understand sticking with 'Sweethearts' for range consistency but I personally would have gone for a more playful name - suggestions on postcards please! Going back to more important matters whilst these were simply delicious the added chilli flavouring wasn't as consistent as it should have been - as I alluded to above some pieces were very fiery, whilst others even failed to register a hint of chilli. If you or your partner/special someone are fan of dark chocolate and chilli these are well worth a look - I have a sneaky feeling that Hotel Chocolat will have better to offer this Valentines Day though.
8.2 out of 10
Wednesday, 27 January 2010
With only four days remaining in January I am really cutting it fine in my bid to find all of you January dieters a good option to satisfy your chocolate cravings. Having sampled some awful products from the likes of Unilever's Slim Fast and Boots' Shapers range I was beginning to feel that all my efforts were going to be in vain but then my hopes were lifted when I saw these new Kellogg's Fibre Plus bars in my local Sainsbury's. Indeed I first saw these bars of 'high fibre cereal with milk chocolate' announced in The Grocer last month - (See HERE). Being a fan of Kellogg's Fruit n' Fibre I needed no second invitation to give them a try.
At an RRP of £1.79 for four 28.0g bars, in comparison to other similar options these are a price premium; luckily I managed to bag these on an introductory offer of £1 which I thought was a far fairer price. Now whenever I think of Fibre cereals I often think of bland packaging and just ...well... brown coloured cereal - it hardly sets your imagination running wild does it! With that said Kellogg's did a pretty damn good job making these bars look well ... pretty flash! As you can see above the packaging has great stand out and the inner foil wrappers maintained each bar in great condition. I happen to think cereal bars are never the most exciting things ever but aesthetically these looked pretty sharp and I liked the drizzled effect of the chocolate on top which created a nice patterned design.
I ate these bars across a working work and substituted them in for my traditional mid-afternoon chocolaty snack. Given that I am reviewing these for dieters it is probably worth considering the nutritional information - 111 calories, 3.5g of fat and 20% of your daily fibre requirements ... not bad huh!? The first thing that struck me when opening one of the wrappers was the mild chocolate biscuit like smell that emanated from the bar - it hardly bowled me over but at least it was there! From the very first bit I noticed how dense these were in texture - they were very chewy in the mouth. In regards to flavours I have to say that the cereal constituents were quite bland with only the rolled oats bringing hints of wheat and flour to the party. In addition to these base flavours the syrup that acted as the bind brought a nice sweetness to the taste which was further compounded by the intermittent influences of milk chocolate. In regards to the actual milk chocolate involved it was actually surprisingly well portioned and had a say in the taste of each and every bite. Was it high quality milk chocolate!? ... of course not! Did it provide an adequate chocolate flavour hit!? ... Yeah for me it did!
Overall I think this is best I am going to be able to do for you dieters out there! These Kellogg's Fibre Plus Milk Chocolate bars were a way off being what I would deem as a high quality chocolate offering, yet at the same time they were damn good for what they were. They weren't the most flavoursome of things I have eaten but I was actually pleasantly surprised by how much of a say the chocolate had in the taste and I was equally impressed at how much they satisfied my hunger. Having tried some damn horrible dieting options recently I am very surprised that I feel in the position to actually go as far as recommending these. I am not sure people who are used to sugary cereals will have much love for them but personally I think the syrup and milk chocolate more than liven up the taste to suitable levels. Dieters this is the best I can do for you I am afraid - they aren't the perfect chocolate snack option but if you are getting desperate I suggest you try mini versions of the real McCoy (mini Snickers etc!). In my opinion nothing can replace the real thing, but these are at least worth a try.
7.8 out of 10
Tuesday, 26 January 2010
January has been a month for Japanese chocolate reviews here on ChocolateMission and I can't think of a better way to end them than with yet another Kit Kat. If you have read the title and find yourself wondering what the hell Kinako Ohagi is please don't worry - I am sure you are in plenty of company! Luckily you for you guys you have me ... and luckily for me I have google :) From what I can gather Ohagi takes it name from a fall flower called Hagi, and is a rice-based cake which is traditionally covered in kinako (roasted soy flour) powder and is filled with red beans. Your probably better off forgetting trying to piece this together in your mind - just squint your eyes and take a look at the picture on the box.
Getting down to business this was a Kit Kat that was split into two packs of two finger biscuits. The packaging was again pretty awesome but hey what did you expect from a Japanese Kit Kat. Some may think that the outer cardboard packaging is excessive but I personally love it and I think it just makes the product feel all the more special. That said the inner Kit Kats themselves weren't exactly scintillating as they looked no different at all too a normal milk chocolate Kit Kat. Although they may have looked a little placid there was no escaping the lovely roasted biscuit smells that emanated when the foil wrappers were broken into and the fingers snapped.
Taking my first bite into the Kit Kat the first thing I noticed was the glorious fresh snap of the wafers. Indeed the wafers seemed to be just a touch crisper than normal and the wheaty flavours seemed just a little bit more malty and came through just a little firmer than normal against the sweet, milky outer chocolate. Although the wafer took a greater hold of the taste the flavours that were most influential were that of the Kinako Soy and that absolutely delightful. Reminding me a touch of the Kit Kat Kinako Soy I reviewed a year or so ago the taste was influenced by a strong roasted nut element that brought peanut like flavours to the party. This varied the taste wonderfully bringing a beautiful contrast of salt and sweet elements. This contrast was simply delicious and so very moreish in every which way. Personally there was just no way I was going to be able eat just a single two finger packet in one sitting, though I definitely got a great deal of satisfaction from all four.
Overall this was one of the better Kit Kats I have from Japan in a long time especially after such hit-and-miss flavours of the Ginger Ale and Sweet Potato. As with every Nestle milk chocolate Kit Kat the standard of the chocolate wasn't sublime but it was certainly passable and it did at least allow the crisper wafers and kinako elements to take centre stage. With the kinako bringing a very peanut like influence to the taste this bar reminded me very much of our once beloved Kit Kat Chunky Peanut Butter .... oh the memories! If like me you miss that bar and want to try an authentic Japanese Kit Kat I would really suggest you consider tracking this Kinako Ohagi bar down at some point. This is a Kit Kat I would definitely have again.
8.5 out of 10
Monday, 25 January 2010
Having bought a fair few of packs of these Hotel Chocolat Ginger Canapes before I finally this time got the chance to take a few snaps so I could get a review up on the site. Indeed, these Ginger Canapes are a long time favourite amongst my family and whenever a pack is opened in our household we seem to suffer at the hands of those magical chocolate nicking pixies who spark the all to familiar conversation of ... 'who's eaten all the chocolates!?' ... 'not me' ... 'no definitely not me' ... 'I've had one' etc etc :D So what causes all this fuss I hear you asking!? ... 'Dark chocolate bases blended with essential oil of ginger and topped with crystallised ginger'.
£6.50 of your money will buy a box of 16 mini canapes pieces which together weigh 100.0g. In regards to the packaging I don't think the outer box is some of Hotel Chocolat's finest work, however I think you will agree that the canapes themselves look stunning and it was nice to see that the crystallised pieces on each piece were always evenly distributed which I think is something that paid dividends to the taste as well as the aesthetics. Removing all the padding and inner film layers I was met by a nice array of cocoa and spice scents. I perhaps expected the ginger to have a bit more of presence though it was still enticing nonetheless.
You may have been able to tell from my opening paragraph that I really like these so I won't beat around the bush so to speak. Each piece had a base of 70% dark chocolate which was about the perfect size to consume in two bites. Breaking each piece in two was of course the only time when any sort of biting or chewing was necessary when it came to the chocolate, as it was of course best enjoyed when simply left to melt on the tongue. Speaking of the melt it was as you would expect with Hotel Chocolat dark chocolate - perfectly paced and as soft as butter once warmed for a few seconds. When first placed in the mouth the cocoa came to the party incredibly quickly and initially brought small notes of coffee, red wine and charcoal. On it's own I personally would find that to be quite enough, however the ginger influences soon made for a taste that was wonderfully progressive. The ginger oil swirled into the chocolate brought a heat to the texture and spicy hint to the taste. What with the chocolate already being quite strong tasting the crystallised pieces of ginger wonderfully tempered the spiciness bringing a dose of sweet sugaryness. I won't lie and say that one canape was a satisfying amount, but just two at a time felt like quite a rich experience.
Overall I think that these Ginger Canapes are up there with some of the finest products I have tried from Hotel Chocolat. That is a pretty big statement to make when you consider just how many different products of theirs I have tried over the past two years. If you have read the above it isn't hard to see why I think so much of them, but to summarise all that I simply think it is the way that the dark chocolate is blended with the added ginger elements which makes for both a variable and delicious taste. I am sure it won't surprise you to hear that the dark chocolate is simply superb - to be honest I expected it to be myself. What I think makes this product stand out from others is the ginger, which I think takes the taste to a whole another level. If you love your dark chocolate and ginger combinations this is a product that I really think you need to try - it is absolutely fantastic.
9.2 out of 10
Saturday, 23 January 2010
It has been a pretty crazy week what with the announcement of the Cadbury takeover on Tuesday. I posted my initial reaction on the in the Hershey Milk Chocolate Review discussion, however having had further time to think about it I have some additional comments so 7Days of Chocolate Reviews is a little different this week.
The general consensus here in the UK is one of doom and gloom with pessimistic POV's strife amongst the media. To be honest I can see where a lot of this pessimism is coming from - the takeover not only brings uncertainty for the future of one of our most beloved and successful British brands but it also brings job insecurity for the majority of Cadbury workers (which in a recession is never a good thing!).
If we for one minute we forget all the negativity and look on the bright side of things we could possibly look at it from this slant. If Kraft were to create synergies with some of their own and Cadbury products there is a potential for things like Cadbury Dairy Milk Dime, Cadbury Dairy Milk Toblerone, Cadbury Dairy Milk Terry's etc. Another positive thing could be the upscale in production of Milka chocolate here in the UK if old Cadbury assists are used - hardly a bad substitute eh!?
Overall although I would love to look at things like that I ultimately think it is a sad day to see one of our proudest manufactures sell up in what can only be a decision made by corporate greed. As I said on Tuesday, business is business and there is little space for sentiment in times of global economic difficulties so the decision by the Cadbury shareholder is somewhat understandable although bitter to swallow.
Given how long these takeover processes take I wouldn't say it is quite time to go out and hoard your Cadbury Wispa Golds just yet, I am sure it will be a long time before we start seeing any significant changes what with the legalities that will have to be worked out in the courts before a full takeover takes place.
I would love to put a positive spin on all of this but frankly I fear the day when we are all tucking in to our Kraft chocolates and saying .... 'do you remember when Cadbury used to make Dairy Milk'.
Thanks Everyone - I would love to hear your views so this post will be left on the site throughout the weekend for you all to discuss - feel free to leave a comment.
* BBC for their comprehensive round up ... See HERE
Friday, 22 January 2010
With thanks once again to ChocolateMission reader Susie I today got my hands on yet another offering from Germany's Moser Roth brand. Moser Roth were one of the pleasant surprises of 2009 as time and time again they served up some great tasting offerings at a fraction of the going market rate. Exclusively produced for Aldi, Moser Roth has previously proven that great quality and an affordable price can be obtained so you can imagine I was relatively excited by the prospect of 'milk chocolate filled with hazelnut milk cream'. This is the first review of Moser Roth's Mousse range you will see in the next few weeks, as I have another two variants awaiting their run at the rating system.
This chocolate came in an odd sounding 187.5g size that was split into five nicely sized smaller 37.5g servings. As I have said in previous reviews Moser Roth do a great job with their packaging and this bar was yet another fine example of how good they really are. The outer box was a glorious marine blue colour and was decorated with some tempting looking pictures of chocolates and whole hazelnuts. Inside the the smaller bars were kept within some sleek looking paper sleeves and looked particularly appetising when cross-sectioned with the inner hazelnut creme having real stand out against the darker coloured chocolate. As great as the inner chocolate looked I have to admit I was little disappointed by the aromas that emanated from the wrappers which generated no more than average amounts of interest with some dairy chocolate scents.
One thing that Moser Roth continually impress me with is the quality of their chocolate, which at times I would say is getting close to being as full flavoured as brands such a Lindt. Although I wouldn't say the cream influences are quite as profound the taste was still wonderfully smooth and flowed with strong milk tones that were ever present throughout the duration on my tongue. Sitting below the crisp outer chocolate the inner hazelnut cream filling had a delightfully soft feel in the mouth with its differentiated drier, almost nougat like texture. Whereas I would day the feel in the mouth was pretty much spot on the flavours of the inner filling unfortunately not as grand as I had hoped. Indeed when the centre hazelnut creme was encountered the taste took a sweet turn, flipping from a fresh milky taste to a more powdery dried milk focus. What was disappointing was that the hazelnut element was really lost in the grand scheme of things, with only a mild note of nut detectable amongst the dominant dairy influences. The taste was by no stretch of the imagination bad in any manner but at the same time I was left disappointed by the lacking presence of the hazelnut. Despite the lacklustre nut flavours on offer I still felt like that a single 37.5g bar made for an entirely adequate snack and made my way through the whole five bars in about a week with some help from some colleagues.
Overall this wasn't the best Moser Roth chocolate I have ever tasted but if this is a case of them getting the enhancing flavour wrong then it was still better than the poorer efforts of some other well known manufacturers. On the positive side the quality of the chocolate was still pretty high and it made for a decent coating for what was a centre filling that didn't deliver what was desired. To avoid me moaning too much another thing I have to mention is the fact that the product was presented gloriously and I was once again impressed with the care that was given to the construction of the packaging and the crafting of the inner branded bars. I guess if you place this bar in the context of a direct competitor such as the Lint Mousse au Chocolat range than it does pale a little in comparison but this would be comparing it with a real high quality Lindt offering. With two other Moser Roth Mousse bars left to review I am hoping for greater things.
7.5 out of 10
Thursday, 21 January 2010
With both bars registering under 100 calories these both sounded like a dieters dream ... well I guess they had to taste alright to completely fit the bill. Below are my thoughts on both ..
Boots Shapers Double Chocolate Bar:
Kcal 98 Fat 2.7g Fat(sats) 1.6g Carbs 18.0g
This bar came described as 'chocolate heaven times two' and weighed 23.0g. Looking at the on pack blurb it sounded like a decent enough product, combining an outer layer of milk chocolate with a chocolate flavoured nougat below. The wrapper itself looked relatively nice though I was a little underwhelmed by both the lacklustre aromas and boring aesthetics that were revealed once it was opened.
To say this bar tasted one dimensional would be paying way too much respect to it. Having eaten it I was dreading writing this review as I knew I was going to have a hard time describing the taste. Why you ask!? Well because it mostly tasted of absolutely nothing ... seriously zip, zero, nada ... NOTHING!! As you can see from the pictures above the outer coating of chocolate was paper thin but at least it at least still managed to bring a small hint of sweet milk chocolate to the taste. In comparison the nougat was chewy and completely devoid of flavour. With the bar tasting of pretty nothing I found it completely unsatisfying.
4.0 out of 10
Having eaten the Double Chocolate Bar above the day before you could say expectations were pretty damn low when it came to eating this Chocolate Coffee Nougat Bar. Billed as 'coffee and chocolate in a dreamy nougat bar' I was praying this was going to offer a little more than the previous days travesty.
The packing and presentation ... meh it looked exactly the same. The wrapper was ok, the bar was lacking personality and just boring and generic ... at least it offered a more exciting aroma with a touch of coffee thrown in the mix. This minor coffee influence to the smell was pretty indicative of the taste. Just as I experienced with the above the chocolate was only really brought to the party by the wafer thin outer coating and lacked any presence in the nougat below whatsoever. Rather than completely lacking in its contribution to the taste it must said that there was a small of hint of coffee detectable in soft, spongy centre but being totally truthful I didn't find it anymore satisfying that the above.
4.7 out of 10
Overall .... (are these even worthy of an 'Overall!???) ... these sucked pretty bad! Now when I said I was going to do my best to find some 'easy on the calories' chocolate treats for you January dieters I honestly didn't think it was going to be this hard. Indeed, both these bars lacked flavour, excitement, character ... they were just ... well ... BAD!! Like I said in my review last Sunday, when you compare these bars to say other 100 calorie options like mini Mars bars, Cadbury Chomps, Cadbury Curly Wurlys etc there just really no competition when it comes down to what is superior. Dieters do not worry I will persist trying to find you some decent diet chocolates. On todays evidence this is going to be harder than I thought though.
Wednesday, 20 January 2010
Kcal ??? Fat ??? Fat(sats) ??? Carbs ???
These Gianduja Praline Cubes came in a box weighing 300.0g which was split into 42 small bite sized pieces. As I so frequently say with Hotel Chocolat products the presentation was first class once again and everything from the on-pack design work to the inner trays and padding radiated all the usual classiness that I have come to expect from the brand. Speaking of the chocolates themselves I have to admit that at first I thought they looked a little on the small side sitting in the tray though my opinion on that soon changed upon experiencing their richness. Although perhaps sceptical at their size initially, one thing that I was more impressed with was how they smelt and I immediately felt enticed by the raw and fresh nutty smells that wafted out of the box.
Picking my first piece out of the tray the first thing I noticed was the velvety feel of the chocolates on my fingers and I have to admit that I was impressed by the way that the chocolates left no stickiness or residue left on my fingers despite the ease at which they melted in the mouth. Speaking of the melt it is actually difficult for me to fully put in to words how luxurious it felt in the mouth. Allowing myself to go well over the top here it was simply sensuous and an utter delight feeling the cool, melty feel of the chocolate transform into it's silky liquid state .... it was just wonderful. Of course just as importantly the taste was also of a very high standard and the delicious blend of woody hazelnut and rich tasting creamy cocoa flavours delivered a smooth elegance that was demanded by the sublime melt. Contrary to my initial thoughts each block was sized to perfection. One cube was the perfect treat to compliment an after dinner coffee, whilst two cubes was enough to feel like a sinful indulgence that was so totally worth it.
Overall I feel like I have said everything in my above paragraph - if I haven't managed to put this over as a product I absolutely loved I should probably just give on this whole reviewing thing now. Pretty much everything about this product was spot on and I can only think of one minor thing that they could change to make it a real contender for the top place on ChocolateMission. Before I reveal that speaking of the actual product at hand I have nothing but positive things to say about it - the presentation was first class, the taste rich and flavoursome and lastly the melt was simply out of this world ... this is how Gianduja should be done! Where they could they improve it!? Well for me I would to try an even stronger, more intensive cocoa solids Gianduja. I am not to sure a 'darker' Gianduja would work as it may detract from the hazelnut flavours ... but hey I think it would be worth a go given the prestige at which Hotel Chocolat handle their darker chocolate recipes. For the time being I simply insist that all you praline and hazelnut chocolate fans doing yourselves a favour and indulge yourselves in a box of these Hotel Chocolat Gianduja Praline Cubes. This is a product well worthy of being recognised as being one of the best ever tasted on ChocolateMission and is well worthy of it's tremendous score.
9.4 out of 10